Responsive Psalm 95 was our opening prayer
Refrain: We are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.
1O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Refrain
3For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. Refrain
5The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed. 6O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! Refrain
7For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice! 8Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness... Refrain
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'
37Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' 40And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'
41Then he will say to those at his left hand, "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'
44Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' 45Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
The church has journeyed through another year of grace; today we conclude with the feast of Christ the King / Reign of Christ / the Sovereignty and Rule of the Crucified and Risen Jesus of Nazareth. I strongly suggested everyone read the commentary from Sundays and Seasons printed on the back of our worship bulletin.
We don't talk much about royalty – kings, queens, etc. Or do we? We know particularly the British royals are well aware of their positions of service to the people. What about others in authority? Government leaders such as presidents, prime ministers, senators, mayors, members of parliament, city or town council— in a democracy, the people elect most of those leaders, so technically their decisions are supposed to respond to the will of the people. Bosses in a workplace? Manager, supervisor, CEO... Church? In most mainline church polities, voting members of the congregation elect the governing board (council, session, consistory, vestry). In episcopal polity that designates the minister of word and sacrament as "rector" or ruler rather than pastor, that person wields a kind of authority the pastor in most Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc. churches doesn't have. However, the resident pastor – whether interim or settled – is responsible for the theology that goes down.
Today is the last Sunday in Revised Common Lectionary Year A that features the gospel we received from the community gathered around Matthew. What are some of Matthew's features?
Matthew begins with Jesus' genealogy, and then emphasizes Jesus as God-with-us, from the time an angel instructs Joseph to name the baby Emmanuel, to the end of the gospel account when Jesus promises to be with us always, and then send us, his followers, out to be his ongoing presence in the world. Although Luke's gospel features the role of women, including Jesus' mother Mary, Matthew tells us quite a lot about Jesus' stepfather Joseph.
Matthew uniquely brings us a visit by the magi from the east, demonstrating Jesus as Savior for all. Only Matthew brings us the flight into Egypt, where Jesus becomes a refugee. Matthew emphasizes Jesus as the new King David and as the new Moses, the new liberator. Pastor Peg reminded us Matthew's Jesus does a lot of teaching and explaining. I mentioned by the time Matthew's community recorded this gospel, the second Jerusalem Temple had been destroyed, but it still was standing during Jesus' earthly life.
Next week we start a new year of grace with the first Sunday of Advent and the gospel according to Mark.